Verification Response Challenge
In Pitt County, we have over 24,000 students and because we have such a low non-response rate, we get to use the Alternate selection method. This method allows us to verify a small number of applications. I think communication is the key to our success and the reason our response rate is very low. We try to make sure we begin the Verification process on time so that the households have plenty of time to get their financial information together and be able to submit it to us in a timely manner.
We pull the names of the households and we verify the applications to make sure it was processed correctly at the time it was submitted to our office. Once it has been verified, we mail the Household Verification letter along with a return envelope to the household. We give the household a two week deadline to submit the required information. After the first week, I make contact with the households, via telephone or email, just to make sure they have received the Household Verification letter and are making plans to respond. We document the phone calls and/or emails on our Communication Log. The Communication Log helps us keep track of phone calls, emails and any mailings that took place during the Verification process. The Communication Log and copies of the letters and emails are filed in a folder labeled with each households’ name.
During the second week, we continue to contact households that have not submitted their required information. Each time contact is made or an attempt, we document it on the Communication Log. If we cannot reach the household by phone or email, then a second Household Verification letter is sent to the home in the mail and sometimes we send it home by the child in a sealed “confidential” marked envelope.
Communication is the key to decreasing your response rate. We communicate with the households to make sure they understand the Verification process and to offer assistance throughout the entire process. People are more willing to cooperate of they understand why they are being asked to submit their personal information. Our goal is to provide clear and easy to understand communication and to assist household members through the Verification Process. The first year that I did Verification I verified 14 families and the previous year it was 25.